The Waimea Heavy haulage driver team (from left): Andrew Brown; Lee Wiren; Grant Schroder; and Steve Gilmore.
Richard Silcock talks with Peter McIntyre, the co-owner of Nelson based Waimea Heavy Haulage about the business and issues facing the industry.
Peter McIntyre and his sister Jenny set up Waimea Heavy Haulage in 2013 when he saw an opportunity in the local market.
“I had come from a background in engineering; manufacturing and repairing rock crushers for local quarries and logging equipment for the forestry sector, but I did have a good understanding of the trucking industry having run Waimea Contract Carriers for a number of years.
“We knew what local industry, and the forestry sector in particular, needed.
“When we were approached by Nelson Forests (NFL) to put forward a proposal to provide low-bedding services to transport heavy equipment to and from their forestry blocks, we saw this as a great opportunity. So we went for it and set up the heavy haulage business.
“Because we are based at Hope on SH6, (some 20 kilometres south of Nelson) we are pretty central to service the ‘top-of-the-south’ as most of the large forests in the Nelson region are located around here.
“We predominantly haul logs to the port at Nelson and cart heavy machinery for forestry operators, but we also do other work and the odd job further south.
“Our heavy haulage business has, in a comparatively short time, done extremely well, gaining a number of significant clients, some of whom include, in addition to NFL, Bryant Logging, Taylors Contracting, Endurance and Berketts Contracting.”
There are no formal contracts with these companies, Peter adds, just verbal agreements.
“We’ve built up a good working relationship with them and provide a good service at a favourable cartage rate.
“I’m not one for contracts, as I believe establishing trusting relationships with your customers is far better than a piece of paper and it leaves room for some negotiation if required.”
Waimea Heavy Haulage operates Kenworth units linked with either MTE flat-deck trailers or Patchell logging trailers and several Scania trucks. The Kenworths were purchased new from Southpac Trucks in Christchurch.
“I prefer the Kenworths as they’re economic to operate, fuel efficient, pretty reliable and well built,” says Peter.
“Parts are easy to obtain and replace and the Cummins motors have the necessary power to haul a heavy load along a forestry road or a highway.”
The Waimea group of companies carry out their own servicing and maintenance of their vehicles and employ their own diesel mechanics to keep repair costs to a minimum.
The heavy haulage business employs five drivers – all of whom are heavy haulage licensed with some having been with the company since its inception.
In addition to hauling heavy and oversize loads the company has sometimes been called upon to provide back-up in emergency situations.
During the Pigeon and Redwood Valley bush fires in February-March this year, which threatened housing near Wakefield, they worked closely with Taylors Contracting – transporting dozers and firefighting equipment to various multiple fire fronts for the Rural Fire Service.
“We even had a Kenworth truck and trailer unit loaded with a dozer on constant standby, 24/7 for three weeks, ready to assist in the establishment of critical fire breaks for the containment of the fires.”
Peter says forestry roads can be tough on gear, especially near the end of a harvest when we are hauling logs and heavy equipment out.
“The roads can get pretty dusty and rutted in summer or boggy in winter when no aggregate or sand has been put down.”
Asked about some of the issues facing the heavy haulage/oversize loads transport industry Peter says some new road infrastructure design and poor road maintenance are his pet gripes.
“Some roundabouts are being designed and constructed without regard to oversize loads negotiating them, and poor road pavement maintenance, especially shoulders and pot holes, often leave a lot to be desired.”
Contrary to the common belief that current health and safety regulations are too stringent, Peter is of the opinion that they are not stringent enough, citing some newcomers to the industry and ‘cowboy’ operators who often ignore them.
“Some take a she’ll-be-right attitude, drive at excessive speeds, ‘cut-corners’ and work extremely long hours without taking a rest break – all of which are a prescription for accidents to happen.
“We are often required to work odd hours in our type of business and can, for example, be called upon to load logging equipment late in an afternoon and transport it from one site to another and this may mean driving well into the night.
“However, we ensure our drivers don’t exceed their legal operational hours and often change driver’s midway if required.”
Under NZTA regulations, oversize loads require a pilot – in some cases at both the front and rear of the convoy and Peter says they play an important part in ensuring safety, not only in helping to get the load to its destination safely, but for the public and other road users.
“There have been some positive changes made to oversize piloting certification recently, which I think was well overdue as I don’t think the previous criteria for granting a level one or two piloting licence went nearly far enough,” he says.